The Atlantic recently ran an article about how the US economy is biased against men. My response? Please, please stop helping. You’re making the rest of us look bad.
It’s ridiculous to say “there are many programs to help women succeed” without saying why there are many programs to help women succeed: because for hundreds of years women have been systematically discriminated against, and in many occupations they still haven’t reached parity. It’s not like “if we didn’t have programs for girls in science, everything would be equal and awesome,” it’s like “if we didn’t have programs for girls in science, we would have even fewer female scientists.” That is a non-optimal situation.
Yes, there are careers in which men are far less likely to succeed, just like there are careers in which women are far less likely to succeed. But you know what the solution here is? Start programs to encourage boys to become home health aids, or nurses, or elementary-school teachers. Don’t get rid of the programs encouraging girls to go into business or science!
And, yes, men have higher unemployment. That’s because the fields men tend to work in, like construction and manufacturing, tend to go up during booms and down during recessions; in particular, construction was very hard-hit by the economic crisis and the housing bubble. Women are more likely to work in fields like healthcare and childcare and basically anything with “care” in the name, which are relatively resistant to recessions. You are never going to see a Newsweek cover article about The Babysitting Boom, but on the other hand kids will still need to be babysat in basically any conceivable situation.
Nemko also attempts to explain away the gender wage gap. He cites that favorite study of wage-gap denialists– the one that shows that childless women under 30 make more than men. Yes, if you leave out children, one of the major causes of the gender wage gap, there’s not going to be a gender wage gap. Shocker. And not only are childless women under 30 a tiny percentage of women, but they’re also much more educated than men are. Maybe, the same way men just happen to work more dangerous jobs than women, and they just happen to prioritize their children lower than women do, women just happen to get more education. See! No sexism! Everything is just happening according to the natural consequences of the people’s actions!
Of course, that argument is obviously fallacious. What you have to ask is why are men working more dangerous jobs, why are men prioritizing their children less, and why are women getting more education? And when you ask those questions, you have to consider that growing up in a society that deeply emphasizes the gender binary and shames anyone who doesn’t conform to it might possibly have something to do with this whole “men = dangerous job, men = children at lower priority, women = more education” thing. That is, the cause of the gender wage gap in either direction? Might just be sexism.
His theory presents a few other problems as well. First, there’s a significant difference between men’s and women’s wages, even controlling for occupation, education, experience, hours worked, age, marital status, children, etc. Second, the men working dangerous jobs are not necessarily the men getting paid huge sums; the argument that fishermen are likely to die so therefore CEOs should make millions is… well, it’s certainly an interesting argument, I’ll give it that. Third, it takes a certain great mind to argue “women make less money because they prefer shopping to taking advanced technical courses” when women are getting more education and you’re opposed to programs to get women into those aforementioned technical courses.
And now we find out that on-site child care, parental leave, programs to get parents back into the workforce, and policies that let parents leave early to take their kids out of school are all discriminatory against men. Because… men aren’t parents? Do humans reproduce via parthenogenesis and I had no idea? The second you want to see your kid’s soccer game you instantly switch from a man to a trans woman? What? I mean, yes, men are less likely to take advantage of these programs than women, but that doesn’t mean that these programs are biased against men, it means that sexism exists and is still perpetrating its Men = Breadwinner Woman = Housekeeper nonsense. The solution is not to end parental leave, it’s to get more men to take it!
Not content with merely making very stupid arguments, in the last few paragraphs of his article Nemko proceeds to perpetrate two anti-male sexist tropes himself.
The workplace cultural practices more often preferred by men have largely been replaced by approaches more often preferred by women. Individual initiative is now usually deemed inferior to teamwork, competition often replaced by collaboration, “push through to get the job done” with “process feelings,” decision-making by leader with decision-making by committee. Men are more likely than women to throw all of themselves into work than to demand worklife balance, for which they are often dubbed with pathologizing monikers such as “workaholic” and “unable to relax” rather than “heroic” for being so contributory, even if it costs them their life. Men die 5.2 years earlier than women, a major cause being stress-related illnesses such as heart attack and stroke.
…And of course the idea that men are all about the individual initiative, competition, pushing through to get the job done, leadership, and looking down upon worklife balance as if it’s for pussies bears absolutely no relation to the fact that men are more likely to get many stress-related illnesses. Nope. That’s crazy talk.
As you know, so many young men are often back living with their parents, often stoned and/or playing shoot-em-up video games, while the young women are launching their career.
Oh, it’s the “man up!” trope! I haven’t seen you for AGES, “man up!” trope! I have to admit, part of the reason I find this hilarious is because I am living with my parents at home and not working this summer (although I’m straightedge and prefer fantasy novels to video games), and yet I have a vagina, boobs, and a perfectly ordinary female hormone profile. Do we actually have any evidence that boys are more likely to live with their parents than women, or is it just “find three anecdotes and call it a night” time?
Are there ways in which American society is biased against men? Of course! Some of the things he talks about are legitimate issues, like the high rate of workplace injuries for men and the increased likelihood of women to graduate from college. But mixing it up with incorrect arguments and rank misandry is hardly going to help anyone.
P.S. The reason you didn’t get many results for “Take Your Daughter and Son to Work Day” is because it’s usually called “Take Your Child To Work Day” (which has a much more comparable 651,000 hits vs. 777,000, and besides much of the difference can be attributed to Take Your Daughter To Work Day being around longer). Christ.